Wednesday, 21 March 2012

ecobuild 2012 - Day Two

If yesterday was crazy busy, then today was doubly so! An overview of the some of the activity below...

1. NBS BRAD iPhone app
NBS Head of Sustainability and Content Development John Gelder launched the new NBS BRAD iPhone app. This is a free download from iTunes with trial content and if you like it you can buy the full version. It's designed for UK construction professionals who need quick access to the Approved Documents when out and about.
Fig 1 - an easy free download from iTunes.

Fig 2 - Search for a topic and then get the information across all Approved Documents about it

Fig 3 - Or quickly access the entire Approved Document

2. The Government's BIM Road Map 
I had my first of two appearances on the stage at the Better for BIM ecobuild main seminar series. I've listened to Paul Morrell, Mark Bew and David Philp present at least 2 or 3 times each in the last 24 months. I've also  had a little bit of time around the meeting room table with the BIM Technologies Alliance group working with the Government on the technology requirements. So hopefully I managed to do a half decent job.

In a nutshell... The government is the biggest spender in UK construction. So it has influence. And it wants to:
a. Get better value for the UK tax payer. 20% savings in financial cost. Make more sustainable buildings.
b. Set clear requirements without telling people how to get there. This will stimulate innovation and through competition drive up capabilities in the private sector. This will pull UK-Construction-PLC up and make it better in the UK and a leader around the world.

On the second of these points. This is definitely true in the case of RIBA Enterprises, we have never worked as hard as we have in the last year in terms of our new product developments around structured data (NBS Create, linked product data,, improved CIS).

And the implementation plan is all around push and pull factors. Or more bluntly carrots and sticks. The carrot is investor reports, great features on construction companies who have been quantifiably successful through BIM and case study projects. The stick is you must be at level-2 BIM as a minimum by 2016, or you don't work on UK Gov projects.

3. Our TSB iCIM project
One of the highlights of the conference so far (what will have woken people up after my six in-depth COBie database slides in the previous sessions) has to have been the iCIM research project presentation by RIBAE Exec Director Richard Watson and Professor Steve Lockley.

As this is a joint research project with names like AEC3, Autodesk, BCIS, Faithful and Gould, Bath Uni, RIBA Enterprises and BIM Academy working together then it's no surprise that collaboration and strength of the information behind the BIM is what came through strongest. Hard to do justice to in a small part of a blog post, but here we go (in screenshots)...

1. A building has had its shell designed using National BIM Library concept components. The user exports to IFC  (note from the screenshot that this is done through an improved IFC exporter developed by BIM Academy)...

2. The IFC model can then be viewed in a platform neutral web viewer (in browsers such as Google Chrome) and cost and carbon information can be returned to the user. 

3. The BIM objects may be configured to meet the budget of the project - whether this is design requirements, financial cost or environmental cost. This rich information at design time is used to help make informed decisions.

4. Results of the configuration can be seen at object and whole project level. The BIM can be round-tripped back into the BIM CAD package. Equally an outline NBS Create specification may be created from the decisions that have been made.

4. BIM and Interoperability
And in the afternoon, I presented again on the main Better for BIM seminar stage. This time about BIM and Interoperability.

I think this one is pretty simple. Teams working on construction projects need to be able to coordinate their project information. They need to be able to pass this to the client at various stages in a format that will last the test of time. This needs a standard, agreed, data format. The UK government stopped one step short of going full IFC and went for COBie in their Construction Strategy.

A few dumbed-down non-construction industry parallels below, hopefully there is some parallels with construction...

1. A Gmail user could not send an email to an iPhone user if it wasn't for an agreed standard non-proprietary format...
2. You'd have to develop your website a number of times if there wasn't an agreed open standard format (and this was true ten years ago - remember Netscape and IE5!)
3. But if the whole project team is using the same software vendor's tools, it's OK isn't it? Because big companies will be around forever...

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